Monday, April 04, 2016

Loaded Baked Potatoes

Your idea of a loaded baked potato might be entirely different than mine. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it. Bacon and cheese, while tasty, is just so done, you know?

A potato is a blank canvas that can accept pretty much any combination of toppings. And it's a great way to use up dribs and drabs of things that are leftover from other meals. Like those random sausage links, half dozen shrimp, and that wee bit of corn (or peas) that are cluttering up the freezer. Make room for another half gallon (actually 3.5 quarts) of ice cream by getting rid of those plastic bags of tidbits and putting them to use in a tasty and filling dinner. You still want to add bacon and shredded cheese on top? Fine. Anything goes, really, except maybe leftover mac and cheese or risotto, unless, of course, you really really like carbs.

Loaded Baked Potatoes a la Minx

2 Russet potatoes
1/2 medium onion, sliced
(2) 3-4 ounce links of your favorite raw pork sausage (Italian, chorizo), removed from casings
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Honey, to taste
1/2 cup corn kernels
6 medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and chopped
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce, to taste
3 tablespoons sour cream
Adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Scrub the potatoes and rub them with a little vegetable oil. Place them directly on the oven grates and bake for one hour, until tender.

While the potatoes are baking, add a little oil to a skillet and cook the onion and sausage over medium heat. Break up the sausage into small chunks as you're cooking it. When the sausage pieces are well-browned, stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute or two. Then add the vinegar and honey. Stir in the corn and the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are opaque. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. The mixture is going over a bland baked potato, so it should be strongly flavored.

Stir a little adobo sauce into the sour cream to give it a little flavor, if you wish.

When potatoes are done, cut an X into the tops of each and smush the potato a bit by holding the outside edges in both hands and pushing toward the center. (This breaks up the potato flesh.) Top with some of the sausage filling and a dollop of sour cream.

Eat with knife and fork. You may have extra filling, which will be tasty on a salad for lunch the next day.

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